Tehsildar Bijbehara will sell the Sangam to you for the right price
Glaring instances of corruption, frauds and illegal mutation of state land by the then Tehsildar Pahalgam Ghulam Rasool Bhat have come to light. These unauthorized mutations of state land and other frauds have caused revenue loss to the state. These fraudulent moves are a typical example of the politician/officer nexus which has enabled corruption to flourish. As Tehsildar Pahalgam, Ghulam Rasool Bhat willfully and intentionally tinkered with official revenue records to benefit local politicians and businessmen. Bhat was suspended in 2019 for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 8.5 lakh from the account of Auqaaf Islamia Tral, when he was posted as the Tehsildar at Tral. Bhat faces charges of massive corruption, illegal mutations and misuse of his office at almost all the places where he served as Naib Tehsildar and Tehsildar. Bhat also faces charges of misappropriation of Rs 2.44 crore at Auqaaf Islamia Khiram Hazratbal during his tenure as the Chairman of Auqaaf Committee, Khiram.
KASHMIR CENTRAL has learnt from reliable sources that as Tehsildar Pahalgam, Bhat illegally and unlawfully mutated a leased property in favour of an influential businessman of Anantnag through family agreement. Hotel Taj at Pahalgam is constructed upon state land standing upon Plot Numbers 14, 15, 16 and 17. It was earlier leased out to one Ab Gani Khan of Nai Basti, Khanabal, Anantnag. The lease of the land and the hotel expired in 1997. In 2019, Bhat mutated this government land fraudulently by mutation number 217 of 2019 to the legal heirs of Ab Gani khan namely Rouf Rehman Mohd Shafi and Hilal Ahmed. The mutation is an example of brazen abuse of official position by Bhat. Rather than asking the benefactors to first renew the lease agreement which had expired in 1997, Bhat fraudulently attested the mutation of the property.
Bhat is guilty of more glaring examples of misuse of power and position. In order to favour ex-MLA of Pahalgam Altaf Kaloo, Bhat attested mutation number 2396 dated 7/9/2018 at Grend Ashmuqam and mutation number 886 dated 7/9/2018 at Jammo Estates at Nayabat Ashmuqam. These mutations related to the property of Asad Kaloo, son of Mamma Kaloo. The property was mutated one-sided among half heirs without including her daughters Nazira, Zubaida and Haniefa. The sisters were dispossessed of the property of their father by Altaf Kaloo in nexus with then Tehsildar Gh Rasool Bhat.
Nazira challenged the mutation in the court of Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Anantnag. On 12/10/2021, ADC Anantnag directed the parties to maintain status quo. According to credible sources, Bhat has mutated a number of leased plots at Pahalgam among illegal occupants. The lease of many such properties had expired decades ago. The leased plots at Pahalgam are prime land with very high commercial value. Instead of following the due process of law and issuing eviction notices to illegal occupants, Bhat mutated the expired leased land among the heirs without caring for loss of revenue to the state, and in contravention of standing order 23A. As Tehsildar Pahalgam, Bhat allegedly grabbed 30 kanals of state land in nexus with his peon Abdul Rehman Katroo of Sallar village. Katroo later encouraged the locals to grab 300 kanals of state land. Sources in the Revenue Department reveal that though many officers are corrupt, they are hesitant to sign on such massive illegal mutations. Why did Bhat allow these illegal and unauthorized mutations?
Since Pahalgam is a high-end tourist destination, many senior officers in civil administration and police bureaucracy are tempted to have properties there. Bhat allegedly enjoys the blessings of two senior KPS officers (one among them is retired now). These officers were in possession of state/forest land at Lidroo and Langanbal respectively. Bhat facilitated the change of title of the land owned by them to proprietary land. It is alleged that this senior police officer, who is now retired, got Bhat’s suspension order revoked in early 2020. It was a quid pro quo for them both. Bhat had regularized the land at Langanbal that was occupied by the police officer. Interestingly, Bhat’s predecessors had categorically refused to attest the mutation of this stretch of land, because it was forest land. Emboldened by the relationship with the two police officers, Bhat acted like an authority unto himself wherever he was posted, in whatever capacity.
Bhat’s Touts For Intimidation, Extortion
Bhat has kept two touts for dealing with the farmer community. One is Fayaz Ahmad Degzi of Khiram village, who remains with Bhat 24X7 since the day Bhat got appointed Naib Tehsildar in 2004. Fayaz strikes deals with the farmers who approach the Tehsildar for land mutations, registrations or permissions of any kind. Higher officials in the Revenue Department know of this practice. They have not taken any action because of Bhat’s friendship with the two senior police officers. Bhat’s second tout is Nadeem Qazim of Marhama village. He has been engaged by Bhat from the day Bhat was posted as Tehsildar in Bijbehara last year. Locals allege that Nadeem has created an atmosphere of fear and even indulges in extortions at the behest of Bhat. Locals allege that a large number of complaints have been sent to Deputy Commissioner Anantnag and the Anti Corruption Bureau, but no action has been taken so far.
Audit Committee Takes Stern Note Of Irregularities By Auqaf Committee
Audit On Accounts Of Khiram Shrine
April 2015 to August 2021
Excerpts From The Report
Taken up on August 8, 2021 by audit team headed by SDM Bijbehara following DC Anantnag’s order. As per Waqf Act 2001, the term of the office of the committee was 5 years, but the committee is still holding charge without any extension granted to them.
The shrine has immovable property in the shape of 11 shops and 32.10 kanals of land. There is no foolproof receipt system in place. There is concern over mis-use/ duplicity of books in view of non-maintenance of proper records
* The closing balance for 2014-15 is Rs 2,66,203. The opening balance is shown as Rs 1,10,472. The amount of Rs 1, 55,731 has been shown as written off. No record with regard to loan amount written off has been produced by the Auqaf Committee. The amount given as loan/advance to Auqaf employees is yet to be recovered, which is a serious issue.
* Against income of Rs 2,44,34,936 expenditure amounting to Rs 2,39,82,228 has been incurred from April 2015 to August 2021. The expenditures incurred till 2019 could not be verified due to non-production of vouchers.
*Payment to suppliers/labours/staff is made in cash rather than through bank, which is contrary to the norm
* During 2017-18, Rs 3 lakh is shown as repayment of loan. There is no explanation regarding the loan. In another payment, there is no record stating why Rs 3 lakh was given to a firm
* Rs 1,15,500 and Rs 8,92,100 has been shown as loan taken during 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively without defining any purpose.
Payments to suppliers have not been made against proper vouchers, which raised doubt over these expenditures.
* Rs 2.45 lakh was released as legal charges during the year 2017-18 till August 2021. The expenditure could not be justified. It is a serious issue how such a huge amount has been shown as expenditure on a particular item which in reality is not in existence
* The physical verification of the stocks purchased from time to time has never been conducted till date
* Despite availability of the computer system, the records have not been computerized till date
* Wide publicity should have been given before leasing out any asset for rental purposes, which could have attracted more interested parties and thereby chances of increase in revenue on account of rent would have been high.
The audit committee has made a set of 15 recommendations for the functioning of the Auqaaf Committee “OR The shrine should be taken over by Waqaf Board.”
(EXCERPTS FROM THE LETTER)
OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER ANANTNAG
Principal Secretary to Government, Revenue Department, J&K, Srinagar
Complaint about irregularities by Auqaf Committee Khiram (Shrine) Dargah, Appointment of Administrator Thereof
Apropos the subject, a written complaint was received by this office alleging mismanagement/mis-governance of the Khiram Shrine by the Auqaf Committee. Since the date of constitution of the committee, no elections have been conducted for managing day-to-day affairs of the Waqaf property.
* The expenditure incurred by the committee over the years was not supported by authentic documents
* The present Auqaf Committee is making payments through physical mode, raising apprehension of non transparency in the financial transactions
* The Auqaf Committee has raised several constructions during its tenure without any approval and technical sanction, nor the codal formalities appeared to have been adhered to while raising the structures. The SDM Bijbehara has also recommended a detailed enquiry into the matter to dig out the facts and arrive at a logical conclusion.
In view of the facts stated hereinabove and in order to ensure transparency in maintaining the Khiram Shrine and financial matters thereof, it is recommended that the present committee may be disbanded and Tehsildar Srigufwara appointed as administrator of the Shrine till elections for framing a representative committee is held under law for efficient management of the revered shine.